MUMBAI, JULY 2, 2010: The Annual General Body Meeting of the Directors of the various Don Bosco centres in Western India was held on 30th June and 1st July 2010. While the first day of the meeting was dedicated to a variety of business issues, the second day was dedicated to inputs and reflection on the ‘Rights Based Approach to Development’. The resource person for these sessions was Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Director of the NGO Samarthan from Bhopal. The session began with a short video clip in Hindi presenting a very meaningful reflection in song on the right to work, the sad reality of unemployment and the dignity that work brings.
At the very start of his presentation Dr. Yogesh pointed out that poverty whatever its form or shade, whether in rural or urban areas has the same pain. The temptation that we need to resist though is to reach out to those who are marginalized or underprivileged in various ways with Band-aid Solutions focusing on welfare. To bring about real change we need to focus on ‘direct democracy’ and ‘citizenship’. It is only by building capacities and by helping people look at themselves as citizens who can demand their rights and entitlements can we bring about change that will benefit all and will last. Speaking about the Gram Sabhas, Dr. Yogesh said that we need to get people interested in its functioning because it represents the collective strength of the people. In order to do so, however, we need to strengthen the functioning of various interests groups that go to make up the Gram Sabha. Foremost among these groups are the women’s’ groups, the SHGs, PTAs, youth groups etc.
Dr. Yogesh then went on to speak of the importance of ‘community monitoring’ in all development projects. A culture of transparency and accountability fostered through the setting up of vigilance committees and through well conducted social audits contributes a great deal to building up the collective strength of the people. He cautioned those present that the goal of audits and committees should never be to victimize anybody. Those who are part of the administrative machinery may have their shortcomings but it is no point antagonizing them. Besides not all are corrupt; there are many who are actually sincerely interested in the good of the people. We therefore need to create the right environment where the officials can perform their duties and the people can access their rights.